[[quoteright:150:[[BadassNormal http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cit_akagi.jpg]]]]
->''I sense no life in you. I know. I was like that a second ago.''

Tokyo, 1958. A 13-year-old kid, [[VillainProtagonist Shigeru Akagi]], drives off a cliff in an rigged game of chicken, swims to safety and walks into a {{Mahjong}} parlor, where a man with heavy debts is gambling his life with the {{Yakuza}}. Despite having never played before, and given only a few minutes to learn the rules, he proceeds to crush his opponents. This becomes his modus operandi: breaking hardened gamblers into shells of their former selves with a deadly mix of intimidation, [[TheChessmaster cunning]], and [[MillionToOneChance monstrous luck]]. This is the start of the genius Akagi's legend in the underworld.

It should be noted that this is a {{prequel}} to ''Anime/{{Ten}}'', where an older Akagi is one of the major characters. See also ''Manga/{{Kaiji}}'' which so far is the only other manga by NobuyukiFukumoto to get an anime adaptation.
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!!This show provides examples of:

* AbsurdlyHighStakesGame: Akagi actually refused to play unless Washizu increased the wager to ''ten times'' the usual rate. This meant each mistake was more fatal, as Akagi would lose ten times more blood than usual. Ohgi wagered an arm as well, indicating his faith in Akagi was unshakable.
** On the flip side, that meant Washizu would lose money at ten times the usual rate as well, [[spoiler: eventually being driven into bankruptcy and being forced to wager his own blood.]]
* AllOrNothing: Akagi invokes the "double or nothing" wager against Yagi/Ryuuzaki. And again after defeating Ichikawa, [[VillainousBreakdown though his request is denied]].
** Urabe also goes the "double or nothing" route against Fake Akagi, but it [[BatmanGambit backfires horribly]] once the real Akagi steps in.
* AmbitionIsEvil: Washizu Iwao.
* AssholeVictim: Akagi's co-workers, who try to con [[TheWoobie Osamu]] out of his pay, [[HoistByHisOwnPetard later fall victim to Akagi]].
** Most of Akagi's opponents, really. Not only they are professional gamblers who drive people into impossible debts without remorse, all of them, save Ichikawa, [[EvilGloating also are total assholes about this]]. And Ichikawa gets away from Akagi relatively lightly.
* AwesomenessByAnalysis: All the pro players are very good at reading people. Akagi is the undisputed master, and also very good at keeping his opponents from reading him.
* BatmanGambit: Everybody uses them, usually in the form of cheating or bluffing. And when it fails, oh, does it royally screw them over.
* BigBad: Washizu, whose arc takes up half of the anime and three-quarters of the manga, more than all the other opponents combined. He's got no connection to them, though.
* BlackAndGrayMorality: The story is focused on the criminal underground of Showa Era Japan, meaning most of the characters are either ambiguously evil, members of the Yakuza, purely evil, or decent (and completely ineffective) normal people.
* BoringButPractical: Ichikawa's play style, which is {{lampshaded}} by everyone present. He gets Akagi on the ropes by consistently scoring with good hands over several rounds and is extremely difficult to Ron.
** Fake Akagi plays by calculating the safest route to the quickest and beast-scoring hand, which is why the Yakuza head initially prefers him to the real thing. As a rep player he is a safe horse to back because he gains a consistent income, but being unwilling to gamble means he never wins big either.
* BornLucky: Akagi, Washizu, [[spoiler: and Fake Akagi, to a lesser extent.]]
* ButtMonkey: Yoshioka. Every time he shows concern for his boss, Washizu, he gets scolded and/or hurt.
* CantGetAwayWithNuthin: Averted. Akagi successfully cheats rather often. His opponents might notice, but won't call him out on it, possibly because they are cheating too.
* CatchPhrase: The Akagi Chuckle. Oh yes. At least once per match, with a fan favorite being
--> Akagi: "*Akagi Chuckle* You're a ''retard'', Yagi-san."
* CharacterTitle
* CheatersNeverProsper: Oh yes they do.
** [[spoiler: Unless they are Nakai]] in the manga, [[spoiler: who takes Akagi on with two other allies, uses signals to get them to support him, uses sleight of hand to push the match further in his favor, and STILL loses.]]
* TheChessmaster: Or rather mahjong master. Take a wild guess.
* CombatCommentator
* CoolOldGuy: Ichikawa.
* CrazyPrepared: Prior to the match against Washizu, Akagi makes an innocuous stop along the way. Turns out he purchased some energy drinks, knowing that the AbsurdlyHighStakesGame meant that Washizu's people might try to poison their food/drinks. Ohgi apologizes for not having considered this obvious point.
** Much later, in the manga, we find out that [[spoiler: Akagi ''also'' got a blood transfusion of 500cc's, having already deduced the true nature of Washizu Mahjong.]] See the [=CMoA=] below.
* CrucifiedHeroShot: See FauxSymbolism in the YMMV tab. (The image on that page in particular.)
* CymbalBangingMonkey: Akagi works in a factory that makes these.
* DarkestHour: When [[spoiler: Akagi dies in the match against Washizu]]. See the Awesome tab above.
* DarkMessiah: During his battle with Washizu Iwao, a mural on the wall behind Akagi portrays the Crucifixion, but Akagi is probably as far from a conventional Messiah as you can get.
* DeathSeeker: Sort of: Akagi is looking for a worthy opponent that he can struggle with in a game until one of them drops dead. [[spoiler:In the manga, after he discards his blood, Washizu starts to think of him as suicidal.]]
* DemonicPossession: Washizu seems to get help by demons to get his desired tile, a 1 Pin.
* DespairEventHorizon: Anytime Akagi is down in points or the opponent has a huge lead. Not for Akagi, though, but rather everyone else around him.
** For his opponents, these moments are {{Hope Spot}}s. Especially for Urabe, who at one point had a 70,000+ point lead, [[YouHaveFailedMe and had his hands mangled when he lost]].
* DirtyCop: Yasuoka. Akagi lampshades this fact early on, when Yasuoka agrees to setup a rematch, acting as the middleman.
* DirtyCoward: Nakai.
* DisposingOfABody: Fake Akagi's burial was interrupted and his corpse was discovered.
* DownToTheLastPlay: The matches are usually close in the penultimate round, and Akagi barely comes out on top, point-wise. (For example, he barely won the first han-chan session against Washizu by 1000 points.)
** Then we get to the (manga-only) fifth han-chan session against Washizu...[[spoiler: and find that Akagi wins by an ''overwhelming 120,000+ points''. Adding in the rank bonuses, that means Akagi wins over 200 MILLION yen in one session alone.]] The sixth han-chan session starts off with a reversal, with Washizu taking an early 99,000 point lead. However...
* TheDragon: Suzuki to Washizu.
* DuelToTheDeath: What Akagi vs Ichikawa ''was'' going to be, until Ichikawa suffered a VillainousBreakdown.
** What Akagi vs Washizu ''literally is'', due to the drawing of blood on ''both'' sides, following Washizu's bankruptcy.
** This is Akagi's true goal. He wants a DuelToTheDeath with a WorthyOpponent of HIS credentials.
* EasyImpersonation: Fake Akagi, who only has two things in common with the titular hero: white hair and a pointy nose.
** To be fair he was supposed to be a 19 years old Akagi, when the last anyone had seen of him was when he was only 13 years old.
* EvilLaugh: Urabe has a pretty unnerving one in his VillainousBreakdown.
* EvilGloating: Akagi's opponents always do this when they have the upper hand. [[TemptingFate And it always ends badly for the gloater]], [[UnsportsmanlikeGloating who really ought to wait until it's truly over.]]
* FalseRoulette: Akagi pulls this on a group of punks out for revenge. [[spoiler: ''After'' having actually shot them in the legs.]]
* FauxDeath: [[spoiler: Akagi, during the Washizu arc.]] ''[=TWICE=]''.
* FightUnscene: The final two han-chan sessions of the Washizu arc are not shown in the anime. The manga, which is still ongoing, does show these. And it is even [[CrazyAwesome crazier and more awesome than what the anime showed]].
* ForegoneConclusion: The author's earlier manga ''Ten'', which takes place after ''Akagi'', said he never lost a match. The timeskip to 1999 at the end of the last episode also spells out what the outcome of Washizu Mahjong will be.
* GambitRoulette: Guess who pulls these off spectacularly?
* TheGambler: Duh.
* HandicappedBadass: Ichikawa.
* TheHeroDies: For real [[spoiler:at the end of ''Ten''.]] In the ''Akagi'' manga, it turns out to be a NotQuiteDead moment [[spoiler:both times]].
* HeroicSecondWind: Happens after [[spoiler:Akagi loses a total 2000cc's of blood and again after losing a total of 2300cc's]].
** Also used in the {{Mahjong}} sense, as rounds are named after the cardinal directions (ie East Wind and East Round).
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: All of Akagi's opponents. ''ALL OF THEM''. (Yagi, Ichikawa, his greedy co-workers, Fake Akagi, Urabe, Washizu, and the manga-only Nakai.)
* HouseRules: Mahjong has plenty, but Washizu Mahjong adds a slew of them. For instance, they play with an unusual set of tiles; three out of four are transparent.
* InvincibleHero: Akagi never loses a game. He may lose a match now and then, but never a game. Ever. See ForegoneConclusion.
* ISeeDeadPeople: Washizu, after [[spoiler:Akagi comes back from the dead the ''second'' time]]. Fake Akagi and all of Washizu's previous opponents/victims appear.
* JapaneseDelinquents
* KarmaHoudini: Washizu avoids any consequences from his murders via blood loss, [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney due to his not-so-unlimited amount of funds used to bribe everyone involved.]]
* TheLancer: Yasuoka to Akagi.
* LargeHam: Washizu, increasingly so.
** LargeHamAnnouncer: [[Creator/ToruFuruya The Narrator]], occasionally.
* LonelyAtTheTop: A variation of this is Washizu Iwao's StartOfDarkness. After becoming the 'shadow king' of the Showa Era in Japan, he realizes that he has nothing left to accomplish before his eventual death. This causes him to slowly go insane, and develop a deep-seated envy of youths.
* LooseCanon: ''Manga/WashizuLordOfMahjongHell''.
* LosingIsWorseThanDeath: Played straight by Akagi. He even gloats over this point to Fake Akagi a few times.
* [[LostHimInACardGame Lost Him in a Mahjong Match]]: [[spoiler:Fake Akagi]] dies during his match against Washizu. The discovery of his corpse sets the entire Washizu arc into motion.
* [[TheMagicPokerEquation The Magic Mahjong Equation]]
* {{Mahjong}}: Duh.
* MillionToOneChance: Where the opponent's draws will seal Akagi's fate, but almost never come to pass. Washizu seems to be [[BornLucky an exception]].
** Inverted in the manga only fifth han-chan session; Washizu actually has a 3/8 (37.5%) chance of drawing the winning tile, which will result in Akagi losing 600cc's of blood at once. [[spoiler:Washizu draws it, and Akagi loses a grand total of 2000cc's.]]
* MindRape: Yagi, Urabe, and Washizu all fall victim to Akagi's mindgames and [[VillainousBreakdown break down spectacularly]].
* MoodSwinger: Washizu swings between faux-affableness, cackling glee, rage and despair several times through his arc. Considering it's all supposed to take place in a single night...
* {{Narrator}}
* NeckSnap: Following Akagi's [[spoiler:''second'' resurrection/revival]] after shock due to severe blood loss, Washizu attempts to finish him off for good, [[WhyWontYouDie because he's running out of patience waiting for Akagi to die.]]
* NervesOfSteel: Akagi. There is ''nothing'' you can do to intimidate him. He takes a [[KatanasAreJustBetter sword]] to the shoulder and ''doesn't even flinch''. He fights groups of five or more armed thugs with his bare hands and emerges ''unscathed''. And lest we forget, he drove full speed off a cliff in a rigged game of Chicken when he was ''thirteen years old'', and dared to blatantly cheat against members of the {{Yakuza}}. ''And he lived to tell about it''.
** Well, actually in the scene where Akagi gets a sword cut, he ''is'' seriously scared, because he knows that he ''will'' be killed if he refuses to back down (he lived through that due to [[BornLucky a coincidence beyond his power to predict]]). You can see him sweating and hesitating, for the first time in the manga. Of course, this makes his decision to reject the demand of Yakuza who hold him at swordpoint even more {{Badass}}.
** Ohgi. His response to being told to bet an arm on a game of Mahjong is simply, "I don't mind." His expression doesn't even change.
** Washizu, if the prequel spinoff manga is considered canon by Fukumoto. Back in his earlier days, you could ''literally'' encase him in concrete, and he would ''still'' kick your ass.
* NominalHero: Akagi could arguably be a straight up VillainProtagonist, considering he appears to have no morals of any kind. That being said, he never really does anything actively villainous either. At least not to people who weren't major bastards to begin with.
** The sixth episode is titled "The Talent Of The Villain". This refers ''to Akagi''.
** Akagi has some standards, though - he despises people who try to gamble without risking anything, either by rigging the game or not intending to honor the outcome from the start.
* NoOneShouldSurviveThat / NormallyIWouldBeDeadNow: Used in conjunction with ICanStillFight.
* NotCheatingUnlessYouGetCaught: Yagi's "caterpillar" technique, which Akagi figures out after the fact (by then it's too late to call him out on it).
** Also Ichikawa's tile switching (from his unbroken wall) and Akagi's tile switching (from the discard pond).
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Urabe. Akagi immediately sees through it, and spends their entire match denying Urabe a similar outlook into his own psychology.
* OhCrap: There's a lot of them, but Urabe's is absolutely ''glorious''.
* OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent: Averted. Akagi is anything ''but'' ordinary for a thirteen-year old.
** He's not even a student.
* PurpleProse: The Narrator uses some... ''interesting'' metaphors.
--> The sand in the depths of hell is magical sand!
* QuitYourWhining: After Washizu gains an enormous lead of 99,000 points (each player ''starts'' with only 25,000; the game does ''not'' end early if a player's score is negative, unlike regular Mahjong rules), [[TheLancer Yasuoka]] starts to think the situation is hopeless. Then [[TheHero Akagi]] tells him to snap out of it, and that [[RousingSpeech victory will be theirs in the end]].
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: Akagi delivers one to Washizu after the infamous 1-pin scene.
--> Akagi: You're just a coward, Washizu Iwao.
* RedOniBlueOni: Washizu/Akagi are shown with Red/Blue auras, respectively. Later though, Akagi is portrayed as a ''Red'' devil.
** In the scene after Fake Akagi is introduced, the real one is seen beating up some thugs. He is then shown in a split-screen with Fake Akagi, where Akagi's background is blue, and Fake Akagi's is red.
* RelativelyFlimsyExcuse: Nangou claims Akagi is his nephew who came to look for Nangou. Yasuoka is not fooled by this alibi one bit.
* TheReveal
* RevolversAreJustBetter: See below.
* RussianRoulette: When Akagi first meets Ichikawa. [[CaptainObvious Both survive the initial encounter]], [[spoiler: by means of skill (exceptional hearing), not luck.]]
* ScrewTheRulesIHaveConnections: [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney Having money]] isn't enough to get the law off your back; Washizu has connections stemming from the end of UsefulNotes/WorldWarII which allow him to get away with murder.
* [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney Can't Screw the Rules, I Have No More Money]]: Washizu, at least, up until volume 22 of the manga. Washizu, not one to let Akagi get away with a victory by default (he's won ''ALL'' of Washizu's ''six hundred million yen'' at this point), keeps the last round going by [[spoiler: agreeing to bet his own blood]], like Akagi had been doing all along.
* SeriousBusiness: SO serious that [[YouHaveFailedMe failure to win means death]] [[FateWorseThanDeath or worse]].
* SociopathicHero: Akagi. in many instances it's clear that he doesn't [[WeAllDieSomeday care if he]] [[NotAfraidToDie lives or dies]] and has no problems killing (Just ask the four steet punks that [[MuggingTheMonster hassled him]] and got shot in the legs for their trouble) and shows very [[TheStoic little in the way of emotion]].
* SpeakOfTheDevil: When Nangou prays for a miracle, even if it's the devil, guess who finally shows up. Later, when facing Washizu, Akagi is portrayed as a ''literal'' red devil.
* SpinOff: Recently got its own prequel spin off in the form of ''Washizu: King of Mahjong Hell''.
** Even more recently, ''Ten'' got its own ''sequel'' spinoff in the form of ''[=HERO=]'', taking place three years after [[spoiler:Akagi's death in ''Ten'']].
** Interestingly, neither spinoffs are written nor drawn by Fukumoto himself; he is credited as an assistant (what with all of the characters being his creations and all.)
* SpotTheImpostor: Fake Akagi and Akagi, natch.
* StoneWall: Ichikawa and Urabe are near impossible to strike directly when they play defensively. Akagi out-gambits and out-lucks the first and out-psyches the latter.
* TheGambler: Pretty much every main character (it is a gambling manga). Akagi is hands down the best with his [[MagnificentBastard cunning]] [[AwesomenessByAnalysis and]] [[CardSharp unique]] [[ConfusionFu style]] that leaves his opponents as the shattered shells of the men they used to be.
* ThisCannotBe: Usually coupled with TheReveal and a VillainousBreakdown.
** Uttered by Yasuoka, arguably one of [[TheLancer the good guys]], when [[BigBad Washizu]] suddenly accumulates twelve dora (bonus) tiles.
* TwoPlusTortureEqualsFive: Invoked by the {{Yakuza}} during a Chō-Han session; the dice show an eight but they threaten to kill Akagi if he doesn't call it odd. [[spoiler:He insists that it's even, and would have gotten his head chopped off if it wasn't for Yasuoka and Ohgi.]]
* TheUnfettered: Akagi.
* UnsoundEffect: [=ZAWA=], indicating dramatic tension, and appearing in many of Fukumoto's other works, including ''{{Kaiji}}''.
* VillainousBreakdown
* WeakButSkilled: Subverted by Yukio Hirayama, [[spoiler:the Fake Akagi]]. He has a photographic memory for the tiles and the ability to calculate probability and statistics immediately through training, allowing him to win games based entirely on mathematically calculating the soundest route to victory. However he lacks gambling instinct and psychology skills and is easily pushed, [[spoiler:which lead to his defeat by Urabe and later being killed by Washizu in one of his games.]]
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: What happened to Ryuuzaki and Yagi, Akagi's first opponents? Do they get their hands/fingers mangled (like Urabe), saddled with debt (Urabe again), outright killed (for life insurance money, just like what ''was'' going to happen to Nangou), or what?
** Well, based on Ryuuzaki's thoughts, he probably gets saddled with Nangou's (cancelled) debt, and Yagi probably loses (several) fingers, based on the threats made towards Akagi.
* WhoWouldBeStupidEnough: Exactly what Urabe was thinking when he dealt the Pei (North Wind tile), knowing that everybody saw it by accident in the beginning, and that Akagi ''couldn't possibly'' be waiting for it. [[TemptingFate Guess what...]]
* WhoWantsToLiveForever: Akagi puts emphasis on "living" before survival, while normal human beings put survival before living. By that he means that it's better to live a fulfilling life and die early if need be than living a long but empty life. Subverted with Washizu who does want to live forever.
* [[WhyWontYouDie Why Won't You Die]]: Washizu insists that Akagi should be dead by all accounts after drawing a total of [[spoiler:2300cc's (actually 1800cc's plus 500cc's of ''transfused'' blood]]. Akagi simply says that so long as the gamble is unfinished, he will remain alive.
* WiseBeyondTheirYears: Despite not knowing much about Akagi's background, it's obvious that he has experienced a lot for a 13-year old.
* WorthyOpponent: After Akagi [[spoiler:resurrects a ''second'' time]], Washizu grudgingly admits that Akagi is "an emperor, just like me. We are the same."
* [[XanatosSpeedChess Xanatos Speed Mahjong]]: His match against Ichikawa, where they both end up waiting on the same tiles, and Akagi has to constantly change his wait in order to avoid dealing into Ichikawa's hand, which also constantly changes in order to trap Akagi. [[spoiler: Akagi fails, but manages to survive long enough to stage a comeback.]]
* {{Yakuza}}
* YouCanBarelyStand: Go ahead, guess who says this to Akagi. See [[spoiler:every single mention of the severe blood loss events on this page]].
* YouHaveFailedMe: What happens to Urabe after he loses, in part because he was the one who kept doubling the wager.
* YoungerThanTheyLook: Akagi in the anime, pre-TimeSkip. When Akagi tells Nangou he's 13, Nangou's response is changed from "Yeah, you look it, too" in the manga to "Really? You don't look it" in the anime.
* YoureInsane: Everyone thinks Akagi is insane for all the stunts he pulls. Washizu is also plenty insane, ''and he acknowledges it''.
** Washizu in particular thinks Akagi is insane for many reasons: upping the wager tenfold, all but signing his death warrant; passing on a winning dealt tile to win by tsumo (self-draw); not chasing a [=DaiSanGen=] hand (one of the ''biggest'' hands in Mahjong) and winning on a [=KoSanGen=] (a lesser variation) instead; throwing out his drawn blood and contaminating it, thereby making transfusions back into the body impossible; and many, many more instances.
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